MAST Group


UNCTAD established the Multi-Agency Support Team (MAST) to work on the taxonomy of NTMs in 2006, with the following objectives:

  • Provide a clear and concise definition of NTMs

  • Develop a classification system of NTMs to facilitate data collection process and analysis

  • Devise ways to collect efficiently the information on NTMs, taking into account existing mechanisms of collecting specific elements of NTMs by each member agency

  • Provide guidelines for the use of data, including their quantification methodology

Recent Developments

MAST's work proved instrumental in establishing the International Classification of NTMs. Today, this is the standard classification for NTMs in goods. The international trade community, including regional and international organizations, uses it.

To address growing complexities in international trade, the MAST group, jointly with other experts, continues its work to refine the NTMs classification. In particular, the MAST group has revised the 2012 classification and established a new 2017 classification which expanded on Chapter J-O with disaggregated taxonomy for distribution restrictions, restrictions on post-sale services, subsidies, government procurement restrictions, intellectual properties, and rules of origin. Currently, all six groups of different Chapters are finalized:

  • General group: Chapters A-I and P
  • Post-Sales Services and Distribution Restrictions group: Chapters J and K
  • Subsidies group: Chapter L
  • Government Procurement group: Chapter M
  • Intellectual Property group: Chapter N
  • Rules of Origin group: Chapter O

MAST Group meeting takes place annually.


The MAST team is composed of eight international organizations:

  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • International Monetary Fund
  • International Trade Centre
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization
  • World Bank
  • World Trade Organization

Group of Eminent Persons on Non-Tariff Barriers

In 2006, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD established the Group of Eminent Persons on Non-Tariff Barriers (GNTB). Its main purpose has been to discuss the definition, classification, collection and quantification of non-tariff barriers so as to identify data requirements, and consequently to facilitate our understanding of the implications of NTMs. To advance the activities on non-tariff barriers, the GNTB met for the first time in UNCTAD Geneva on 12 July 2006 and adopted the following terms of reference:

  1. To make recommendations on the definition, classification and quantification of NTBs

  2. To define elements of and draw up a substantive work programme relating to the collection and dissemination of NTB data, with a special focus on issues and problems faced by developing countries

  3. To provide guidance on the further strengthening of UNCTAD¡¦s Trade Analysis and Information System (TRAINS) database

  4. To review and make recommendations on capacity-building and technical cooperation activities in favour of developing countries in the area of NTBs

  5. To provide policy advice on inter-agency collaboration and coordination on activities relating to NTBs

  6. To promote cooperation with the donor community

  7. To prepare comprehensive recommendations on follow-up to its work

The GNTB is composed of the following eminent persons: Alan V. Deardorff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Michigan; Anne O. Krueger, Former First Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF); present Professor of International Economics, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; Amit Mitra, Secretary-General, Indian Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry; Marcelo de Paiva Abreu, Professor of Economics, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro; L. Alan Winters, Former Director, Development Research Group, World Bank; Chief Economist, Department of International Development (DFID), United Kingdom; and Rufus H. Yerxa, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO).